Project Panning: Online community battling against makeup addiction


Instagram and YouTube alike are constantly awash with videos of mammoth makeup collections, with hundreds of gurus showing off their colour coordinated collections in clear plastic Ikea drawers. 

There can be major pressure to purchase the hottest new palette or highlighter as soon as it drops, with celebrities and beauty influencers alike promoting new items, doing first reaction videos and reviews. 

Believe it or not, it's actually pretty hard to use up all of that makeup. 

Yeah, you might hit pan on one or two shades in an eyeshadow palette, but then the other seven, eleven or even twenty-odd shades are left with barely a swatch taken from them. 


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There are a community of makeup-lovers out there who have realised that hoarding more makeup then you could ever possibly use potentially isn't the best use of their time or resources. 

People truly feel they need the hottest new drop from a big name brand, but actually if they rummaged around in their current collection they could probably find something similar. 

The Project Panning community have created a corner of the social media stratosphere for themselves, and they're all about using up every last inch of their beauty products.

They share tips on how to use up tricky shades in well-known palettes, and track how long it takes them to hit pan on different makeup items.

Many Project Panners take on challenges, such as not purchasing any new products until they have used up five of their current ones, or limiting themselves to purchasing a certain number of products per year.


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According to one Reddit user, there are a number of reasons someone would want to get involved in panning.

'I pan because I want to get rid of something and I don't like throwing things away,' said Reddit user vitriolicheart. 

'Although recently I'm getting more along the lines of if I can see the pan and I don't really like it I don't have to finish it.'

'Some are because I want rid, one I chose because I just wanted to see if I could pan a lipstick this year.I can't remember the last time I actually used one up.'

'My last pan was a cream foundation and it was one I'd forgotten about. I opened it and it was almost gone.Easy to pan and great to see it gone.' 

'I really don't need to buy any more things. Most satisfying pan for me is the stuff I don't really like. Once it's empty, it done and I can move onto better things.'

Obviously using things up until their gone isn't a new concept, anyone who wants to minimise waste and get the most value out of a product will use it up until the last drop. 

The community has roots in minimalism, but has gone from strength to strength as beauty gurus and online influencers have made early releases of products public knowledge, and flog a new contour palette every other week. 

The mantra is 'using what you have, and not giving in to the misconception that you must buy new makeup every time a pretty new product comes out,' according to Rachel Smith, lifestyle blogger at Budgets and Kale


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There are no hard and fast rules, if you really want that new ABH palette, no one is going to excommunicate you for it, it's you versus your makeup. 

However, with the constant promotion of makeup products across social media, some are joining the panning community to combat a makeup addiction. 

'One day I stumbled across YouTube beauty videos,' said makeup videographer and panning community member Lauren Mae, in a recently uploaded YouTube video.

'I started buying things… I had a little bit of extra cash and whatever I had I would spend on makeup. I always had packages coming to the house.'

'For a long time it was just buying when I could, it wasn't super intense, no addiction starts out insane at the beginning. I spent all my extra money on it, I loved it I was super enthusiastic about it.'

'Fast forward…I spent so much money on makeup. It's crazy. When I think about that money it makes me cry a little and cringe inside. I would make super large purchases… buying like the apocalypse was about to happen,' she continued in the video. 

'I had to have every new release, I had everything, I loved putting it in my Ikea drawers, I was full blown obsessed with makeup.'

Lauren goes on to describe how the secrecy of her makeup buying made her realise she had a problem, after she began diverting packages from her own house so that her partner wouldn't see how much product she had purchased. 

'I would always have stuff sent to my Mom's house because I didn't want packages showing up at my house. At least five or six packages a week were coming to my Mom's house.'

'I definitely used my Mom's house to kind of hide everything I was bringing in. It's not that he didn't know about me spending the money but I just didn't want it in his face, I didn't want to get questioned on why I was buying so much makeup. '

'I loved watching videos and being able to like mentally check off and be like "oh, I have that," "oh, I have that." It's like I'm almost living this life of a beauty guru but in my own home and in a totally different world than them.'

'It was more than just wanting it, it was like all that mattered was getting it, there was like this rush and almost this high to buying. I wanted to swatch it and use it a couple of times, but then after that, that feeling goes away and you have to go and fill it with something else,' she continued.

'The beauty community has changed a lot, there are so many new releases it's not even possible to buy everything anymore.'

This rush and ebb of feelings made Lauren realise she didn't want to continue in that cycle anymore. 

It was then that she discovered the trend of filming 'empties' videos on YouTube, in which gurus and gals alike talk about products they have completely used up. 

She became drawn to the concept of having used up empty products in her collection rather than full products, and stumbled upon the project panning community.


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Lauren, like many, kicked off her panning journey with the Project 10 Pan Challenge, in which members use up 10 items before buying any new ones, and so became full on besotted with the community. 

Now, Lauren's story has been seen by over 55,000 people and project panning is on the rise. 

The community is quick to emphasise that it's not there to shame anyone. If you want to exchange you hard earned cash for new beauty releases then you do you, boo. 

However, project panning is growing online, as consciousness takes over consumerism, but always with a hint of competitiveness.